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Archbishop Carroll’s depth leads to big Wyn, state semis

Archbishop Carroll’s Erin Sweeney, hoisting a 3-pointer during Wednesday’s win in the PIAA Class 5A second round, scored 13 points Saturday in Carroll’s 51-32 victory over Oakland Catholic in the quarterfinal round. (Kirk Neidermyer/For Digital First Media)

CHAMBERSBURG >> No journey to a PIAA championship is complete without a story about a sixth player.

Wynter Bess was a primary reason why Archbishop Carroll left Chambersburg High School Saturday with a lopsided win. A flexible player and a valuable piece for coach Renie Shields, the 5-6 senior can play guard, drive to the basket, rebound and defend. She’s a prototypical Carroll player, excelling in all areas.

Oh, and sometimes public address announcers from other high schools announce her as “Bess Wynter.” Random? Yes.

It’s better just to call her Wyn.

Archbishop Carroll’s Harlem Jennings, skying to the basket in a second-round game Wednesday, scored 12 points Saturday to lead the Patriots to the PIAA Class 5A semifinals. (Kirk Neidermyer/For Digital First Media)

“My goal is, anything I can do off the bench to help the team, I’m going to do,” Bess stated matter-of-factly Saturday after she scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, had one assist and made one steal in limited, albeit very productive, minutes.

“That’s what I’m going to do. If we need a rebound, I’m going to get a rebound. If we need a stop, I’m going to get a stop. I just want to win.”

Archbishop Carroll advanced to the final four of the Class 5A tournament with a 51-32 victory over District 7 runner-up Oakland Catholic. It was apparent after the first quarter that Carroll, District 12’s third-place finisher, was the superior team.

Oakland Catholic made some noise in the second half, but the game would have required a minor miracle for Carroll to lose.

When Oakland Catholic cut a double-digit deficit to eight points, 36-28, with six minutes to play, Bess thwarted the rally by making a steal. Sophomore Erin Sweeney then scored four straight points, and Harlem Jennings made a three-point play. No worries, the Patriots were back on course and led by 15 points.

Oakland Catholic struggled mightily in the first half, including 5-of-20 shooting from the field and 10 turnovers. The Eagles limped into the locker room down 28-13. Naturally, OC went on a 9-2 run to pull within eight points of the Patriots in the third quarter.

Bess helped the Patriots recover following a timeout. She assisted on a Jennings basket then put back a miss to give Carroll a 34-22 advantage.

Molly Masciantonio, Carroll’s do-everything senior guard who notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, lauded Bess for the energy and confidence she brings on the court.

“She’s always hyping us up in the locker room … and she’s really aggressive at practice,” Masciantonio said. “That’s what we need on this team. When people sub out, we need her great defense and her energy. It’s what helps keep us up.”

Carroll scored 17 points on 8 of 15 shooting in the first quarter. At halftime, the Patriots had made 12 field goals, pulled down 14 rebounds and committed a measly two turnovers.

“We didn’t want to stop going,” Bess said.

The Patriots had a few lulls in the second half but never lost control of the wheel. That 21/2-hour drive from Radnor was well worth it. They had a morning shoot-around before they hit the road.

Championship teams know how to adjust when things are going wrong, and Carroll has done precisely that throughout the state tournament.

“The past three games we didn’t play our strongest in the first half. When we would start the second half, we would have to climb back from a deep hole, so this game we really tried to have energy from the start,” Masciantonio said. “We wanted to get out to a big lead and to keep it up, but we knew that if it fades, we would have to keep our composure and stay calm. We just had to keep scoring and getting shots.”

Carroll pulled away for good with an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter.

Sweeney had eight of her 13 points and shot 6 of 6 at the foul line in the fourth quarter. Jennings finished with 12 points, five rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks.

Sierra DeAngelo, a 6-1 junior forward, was Oakland Catholic’s best player. She had the height and could shoot from long distance. DeAngelo led OC with 12 points, but overall the Eagles were terrible from the field: 14 of 46, including 3 of 18 from 3-point range.

“We had to play like we were down 10 points,” said Jennings, a junior guard/forward. “We settled down, we clicked and came together as a team. We knew who their shooters were and we decided we had to stay in the paint more. They all like to shoot from outside, so we crashed (the boards) and stayed aggressive in the paint.”

Carroll might return to Chambersburg Tuesday night to play another District 7 team, Mars Area, in the semifinals. One more win for the Patriots and it’s off to Hershey’s Giant Arena Saturday.

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